Poland national team

Spat continues as Jurgen Klopp dismisses Lewandowski’s complaints


Robert Lewandowski won’t be a Borussia Dortmund player next season, we all know that. Even Dortmund’s manager Jurgen Klopp has said so.

But while he’s there, Klopp doesn’t expect any problems. At all.

Yesterday Lewandowski accused directors of failing to keep their word after blocking any potential move to Bayern Munich over the summer. So now Lewandowski will have to wait out his contract until it expires next year and leave Dortmund for nothing.

However Klopp is standing firm and isn’t concerned with what the Polish international is saying.

“For me what he does is a thousand times more important than what he says because what he does needs no interpretation,” Klopp said.”Whatever is left to be discussed will be discussed internally. The idea is to close this subject. Everything is in order. Nothing has changed since yesterday or the day before yesterday. I am convinced we will clear up everything in the coming days.”

So does that mean Lewandowski’s sulking around the place will stop? Will the directors and manager come to an agreement to sell him? Or maybe they will get the 24-year-old to sign a new cont… scratch that, never in a million years will that happen.

Has Lewandowski forced Klopp and Dortmund into a corner with his accusations? After leading Dortmund to the Champions League final and hammering home four goals in the 4-1 semifinal home win against Real Madrid, Lewandowski seems to have got above his station a little bit.

(MORE: Borussia Dortmund’s goal — minimizing Robert Lewandowski’s grudge)

Yes, he put in some stunning displays and led the line admirably against the elite of European soccer. But he did have the support form some of Europe’s leading midfielders feeding him chance after chance.

This is was Lewandowski was quoted as saying about the tricky situation he is now in at Dortmund.

I always give everything. To be honest with you I feel cheated by Borussia. I don’t know if I will be unaffected by the situation. It’s there in my subconscious and there will be a time when I will turn up for a game in a bad mood.

He seems to have thrown all the faith and trust Dortmund put in him back in their faces. When he left Poland’s Lech Poznań at the age of 21, Lewandowski failed to settle straight away in Germany. But BVB kept faith in him and now he’s developed into one of the hottest properties in Europe. He’s done it himself, but don’t be fooled because Borussia have helped him plenty along the way.

Should the German club been more accommodating and let Lewandwoski leave this summer? Perhaps. It seems pretty stubborn and silly that they will loose out on millions of dollars just because they didn’t want to sell Lewandowski to Bayern after losing Mario Goëtze to their Bundesliga rivals earlier in the summer.

However this plays out, there will be no great winner. Lewandowski looks like the bad guy for turning his back on Dortmund and the club look silly for keeping a player around who clearly doesn’t want to, and won’t, be there nine months from now.

Something has to give. Maybe the next few days will seem some movement, as the giant Pole looks to move on. But he should remember, the grass isn’t always greener in Bavaria.

Shipped from abroad, Euro 2012: Team of the day, memories from Group A’s closing round

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source: Reuters

How we’ll remember …

Greece 1, Russia 0 – As our ultimate reminder these three game mini-tournaments can be quite unpredictable. Russia finished with the best goal difference in Group A, a small bit of evidence to confirm suspicions that they were the group’s best team. Of course, there is one very big piece of contradictory evidence: their third place standing. Greece goes through in second after an unimpressive yet opportunistic round robin.

Czech Republic 1, Poland 0 – As a game where the intensity never matched the stakes. You wouldn’t have known both teams needed a win to advance. From the 30th minute forward, the Czech were the better side, with their 72nd minute counter attack sending them through as unlikely group winners.

Team of the Day

G: Michalis Sifakis, Greece
LB: David Limbersky, Czech Republic
CB: Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Greece
CB: Michal Kadlec, Czech Republic
RB: Theodor Gebre Selassie, Czech Republic
DM: Tomas Hubschman, Czech Republic
M: Giorgos Karagounis, Greece
M: Kostas Katsouranis, Greece
LW: Vaclav Pilar, Czech Republic
RW: Jakub Blaszczykoswki, Poland
F: Robert Lewandowski, Poland
Subs: Tomas Sivok, Czech Republic, Roman Shirokov, Russia; Petr Jiracek, Czech Republic

Three lessons to take home

1. Embrace the randomness of the three-game mini tournament – We all know about the any give day principle. In international soccer, it’s promoted from principle to rule. Any team can beat another, especially when they get the first goal. One errant header (Sergei Ingashevich), one point of clairvoyant opportunism (Giorgos Karagounis), and you’ve got enough to get through.

Don’t let that diminish what Greece accomplished today, knocking Russia off their perch and advancing to the quarterfinals. In the opening minutes, Kostas Katsouranis’s redirection onto goal served notice. Greece weren’t just going to sit back and hope. They were taking hope into their own hands.

We see results like these all the time during league seasons and, after picking our jaws up off the floor, move on realizing these things happen. It’s only one game in a long campaign.

In these tournaments that are major final group stages, these results are one-offs, but the implications loom large within the context of a three-game season.

Russia are the Seattle Sounders. Or Arsenal. They’ve just lost to the Columbus Crew. Or Wigan Athletic. It’s surprising and they should have done better, but it’s hardly the biggest upset we’ve ever seen. In fact, these things happen.

And if they happen to you in a three-team tournament, you’re probably sunk.

2. ‘Best’ and ‘most deserving’ are two different things – Are Russia better than Greece? Probably, but these tournaments aren’t about finding out which teams’ best, no matter of the cliches have inadvertently packaged them as such. They’re about winning, and thankfully, the best team doesn’t always win. To suggest otherwise would mean we have a lot of explaining to do about the non-2004 history of Greek soccer.

It works the other way, too. Following this sport would be boring if the best team always won, but it would be disingenuous if we assumed the winner was always the best team. It’s better to recognize that over two hours on Saturday, Greece did what it took to win the game. They managed the circumstances of the match better, and while that doesn’t necessarily make them empirically better, it does make them more deserving of moving on.

And there’s no doubt: Greece is more deserving. Nothing about Russia’s performance said “we deserve to be in the final eight.” Greece played to the occasion while Russia played as if they were owed a win just by showing up.

The effort Giorgos Karagounis put forth on that goal? Effort that was match by his teammates for 90 minutes? No doubt Greece deserve their place in the quarters.

3. Don’t take people’s picks too seriously – It’s a spot number expected them to claim. Almost everybody had Greece going out at this stage of the tournament. Does that mean those prognosticators were idiots? Not any more so than it meant Greece wouldn’t make the quarterfinals.

Every site (including ours) offer predictions. They’re a lot of fun, but the best way to ruin that fun is to take them too seriously. After today, does anybody need to be reminded about sports’ beautiful variability?

Not that anybody wants to get picks wrong, but part of the charm behind Greece’s upset lies in those bad predictions. There is an against the odds subtext to their performance that undoubtedly enhances it. How do those odds come about? Predictions.

Discard predictions if you must. You’re also throwing out part of what makes Greece special.

ProSoccerTalk is doing its best to keep you up to date on what’s going on in Poland and Ukraine. Check out the site’s Euro 2012 page and look at the site’s previews, predictions, and coverage of all the events defining UEFA’s championship.

Offshore drilling, Euro 2012: Czech Republic 1, Poland 0


source: Getty Images

Man of the Match: Tomas Hubschman started this tournament on the bench, something which lasted all of 45 minutes. After the Czech Republic were dissected by Russia, he reclaimed his place in the team, and the Czechs haven’t lost since.

On Saturday, he did everything you’d want a deep-lying midfielder to do. He broke up anything Poland tried to build through the middle, forcing them wide before trying to come in. His passing brought them out of their third and enabled them to control the game from the 30-minute mark on, serving as the team’s main point of distribution. And on the goal, he was the man who started the movement, springing the Czechs on the counter.

It was the most complete performance we’ve seen this tournament from somebody playing that role.

NBC Sports: Czechs beat Poland 1-0 to advance to quarterfinals

Packaged for takeaway:

  • If Hubchmann hadn’t started the movement on the goal, Czech winger Vaclav Pilar would have been Man of the Match. Consider all the superlatives I just handed Hubschmann, and the consider how good Pilar must have been to have outperformed him.
  • Pilar, deployed on the same side as Poland’s Jakub Blaszczykowski, had a huge defense assignment, and in that phase of the game, you often saw him himself just in front of left back David Limbersky (who, like Hubschman, had his second very good great since put into the starting lineup). Still, he was able to get forward, provide the Czechs’ most consistent threat in attack, and take apart somebody many consider to be the world’s best right back: Poland’s Lukasz Piszczek.
  • The Czech Republic’s right back, Theodor Gebre Selassie, had another great day and should draw looks from teams in bigger leagues. The 25-year-old from Slovan Liberec in the Czech Republic had four instances in the first hour where he blew down the right flank and got crosses into the penalty area. He also played well in his own end. Who knows if this is a regular thing for him, but I’d love to find out. If it is, there are few clubs in the world he wouldn’t help, if only as an option coming off the bench.
  • If, at the start, the Czechs had assumed Greece could win, this could have been a much more entertaining game. Michael Bilek, however, assumed Russia would win and had his team play somewhat conservatively through the first 45 minutes (thinking a draw would get them through). Imagine his surprise at halftime when he learned Greece was up.
  • Through the game’s first 30 minutes, Poland seemed the better side. They were getting a lot of good holdup and distribution work from striker Robert Lewandowski, who consistently drew fouls that set up set pieces delivered beautifully by Ludovic Obraniak.
  • Blaszczykowski was also very active, pushing forward and in from this right midfield position to link up with Lewandowski. Franciszek Smuda seemed to have something going when he’d put Obraniak and Blaszczykowski on the same side – a combination that created the goal against Russia. Though Poland lost control of the game for the first half’s last 15 minutes, you could see why Smuda left his team unchanged to start the second.
  • But the Czech Republic retained control coming out of break, control they’re maintain through the final whistle. Unfortunately, it didn’t lead to many opportunities, as Tomas Rosicky’s injury and Milan Baros’s disappearing act left them dependent on Pilar and Petr Jiracek performing magic wide.
  • Poland eventually had to push and started sending their fullbacks forward. In the 72nd minute, Hubschman started a counter that ended up at Baros’s feet. He played left to the oncoming Petr Jiracek, who cut back onto his right foot to beat Prezmyslaw Tyton from  12 yards out.
  • On the play, right center half Marcin Wasilewski appeared to have Jiracek in front of him before, while planting to stop moving right, he slipped, fell, and couldn’t contest the shot. It had been raining off and on during the first half, and the field conditions may have played a part in Wasilewski losing his footing.
  • In the 94th minute, Michal Kadlec saved the Czech’s quarterfinal berth. A draw would have dropped them from first to third, and when Poland caught the Czechs too narrow and created a chance on the right for Blaszczykowski, it looked like Russia were back in first. Kadlec raced back to the line and got behind a ball Kuba had to place toward the left side of goal. His headed clearance just in front of the line kept the Czechs in first.
  • For Poland, the tournament played out like a team not knowing how to get the points they need in this format. They let a 10-man Greece come back and draw, while Saturday they failed to follow through on a good start, letting the Czech Republic gain control of the game before Greece had forced the issue. Yet against Russia on Tuesday, they played very well. They qualified for Euro 2008, so most of the players should be familiar with this kind of tournament soccer. Perhaps expectations got the best of them.
  • For the Czech Republic, they finish first despite having the group’s worst goal difference, and it’s not exactly clear how good they are. They’ll get the second place team from Group B in the quarterfinals.

ProSoccerTalk is doing its best to keep you up to date on what’s going on in Poland and Ukraine. Check out the site’s Euro 2012 page and look at the site’s previews, predictions, and coverage of all the events defining UEFA’s championship.

Host’s expectations, collecting howlers, and Poland-Czech Republic: Saturday’s Euro 2012 B-Side


source: AP

When Poland met Russia on Tuesday, I opined the match would be the most attractive of Group A’s mini-tournament. The game almost lived up to the billing, but Saturday’s match in Wroclaw will likely eclipse it. Combine Poland and the Czech Republic’s styles and the stakes of their group-closing meeting, we should see a higher scoring version Poland-Russia.

Poland comes into the match needing a win to advance. The Czech Republic also need a win, though depending on the result of Russia-Greece, they could still get through with a draw.

Don’t expect the Czechs to start by playing for that draw. When the first whistle blows at the Municipal Stadium, we’ll likely see a brief feeling-out period before the teams start jumping on their perceived advantages. And as they try to exploit those edges, they’ll will leave themselves open for new attacks.

Unfortunately for the Czechs, their best attacking player will likely miss the match. Tomas Rosicky left Tuesday’s game at halftime with an Achilles problem, and although the team will wait until just before the game (if necessary) to make a final determination, Rosicky failed to train during the week. For a team that’s already having trouble utilizing their striker, losing their best connection to the forward position will be a significant setback.

Which brings us to today’s playlist:

Side 2: Poland vs. Czech Republic

5. Lasted for too long

Striker Milan Baros has been invisible for the Czech Republic through two rounds, but there’s little indication Michal Pilek will go in another direction, especially with so many doubts surrounding Rosicky. Baros, the leading goal scorer at Euro 2004, has an impressive record (41 goals in 91 games) but has been ineffective for some time. Backup Tomas Necid is the future, but he’s also been dealing with injuries. Tomas Pekhart and David Lafata are also options, if unconvincing onces.

Many associate the Czech Republic with an attractive style of play, something which should serve them well on Saturday. With Rosicky injured, it’s unclear they’ll be able to pull off a more progressive approach. If they try, they may end up outgunned, especially if they’re relying on Baros for goals.

6. Trend I have to break

Going back to 2008, Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech has given up a suspect goal in three consecutive Euro matches, an amazing string considering the impecable form he had while Chelsea were winning their first Champions League. Then, Cech was reestablishing his reputation as one of the world’s best `keepers, a reputation that faded thanks in part to the events of 2008. With his troubles four years ago seemingly inspiring a club-world slump, it took Cech a couple of years to return to his best.

source:  Chelsea fans have to be worried the same will happen this year, but first things first. Cech needs to make it through 90 Euro minutes without a howler. While it the Czech Republic could advance despite another mistake, that may only prolong Cech’s agony.

7. Tryin’ on change

Poland came into the tournament projected to play a 4-2-3-1 formation. Against Russia, they switched to a 4-1-4-1, presumably in response to the specific threats Russia offers.

The Czech Republic has a more dangerous attack than Greece (against whom Poland played 4-2-3-1), but they’re not Russia. Will Franciszek Smuda go back to the 4-2-3-1, which was so impressive for the first half hour against Poland? Or will he stay 4-1-4-1, a system that played Russia to a stand still?

It likely won’t matter. The formations can play so similarly, the more important issue may be how Poland plans to use Robert Lewandowski. Against a Czech central defense that has been suspect, Lewandowski could have a big day.

8. (Show me) Your bottom line

Poland has already raised their profile on the international stage, an ascendance that has little to do with their place as co-hosts. They’ve played attractive soccer, and with stars like Lewandowski and captain Jakub Blaszczykowski, they’ve given onlookers the kind of star performances that are easy to latch onto.

But aesthetics only count for so much. In fact, they can be counter productive at this point. Now that Poland has shown their quality, the expectation is they beat the Czech Republic and get out of this group.

For a team that’s drawn both of their games thus far, it’s a significant ask. But it’s also a reasonable one. Looking player for player, there’s no reason that can’t beat the Czechs and secure a place in the quarterfinals, where they’ll likely get a match with Germany.
ProSoccerTalk is doing its best to keep you up to date on what’s going on in Poland and Ukraine. Check out the site’s Euro 2012 page and look at the site’s previews, predictions, and coverage of all the events defining UEFA’s championship.

Shipped from Abroad, Euro 2012: Looking forward from Group A after Day 5


source: Getty Images

Group A “Power” Rankings

1. Russia – Pushed by Poland in a game they could have very well lost, Russia remains the best team in Group A. As threatening as Poland was, Russia still controlled how the game was played, even if Poland generated all the good open play chances.

2. Poland – Tuesday’s result was less about Russia coming back to earth than Poland playing (closer) to their potential. Against a Czech defense that got a pass against Greece (after being taken apart by Russia), Poland has a viable path to the quarterfinals.

3. Czech Republic – Given how bad Greece was, it’s hard to know how good the Czechs are. The potential loss of Tomas Rosicky will hurt, as the team may have to find a way to augment their wide play against a Poland team more defensively sound on the flanks. They only need a draw to go through, so while Poland appears to be a better team, the odds may be in the Czech Republic’s favor.

4. Greece – They still have a chance to go through, but a Saturday match against Russia presents a series of unfavorable matchups. As captain Giorgos Karagounis pinged the ball around the field in the second half against the Czech Republic, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for a highly decorated international forced to deal with another major tournament disappointment. (Don’t feel too sorry for him; he was a part of the team that won Euro 2004.)

Crystal Ball: What Need to Happen Next Round

Group D resumes play Saturday, with both matches kicking off simultaneously

Czech Republic vs. Poland

On Tuesday, Poland showed their last 60 minutes versus Greece were out of character. Call it nerves or inexperience or whether you want. Going blow-for-blow with the Russians showed their true quality.

It’s better than we’ve seen from the Czechs, even though the Czech Republic got three points from Greece (where Poland got one). Likely to be second-best in midfield while having their strength wide neutralized, the Czechs are finally going to have to answer their questions up top. How do they get something out of the striker position, where Milan Baros has been invisible? And what do they do behind the striker if Tomas Rosicky can’t go?

If you’re Poland, you have to assume that if you play your game (and play to your potential), you’ll go through. The Czech Republic’s defense was terrible versus Russia and untested versus Greece. You have to think you can take them.

Greece vs. Russia

Greece’s left side has been consistently exploited. Unless they make major changes, Alan Dzagoev and Aleksandr Anyukov are going to have big days. When Andrei Arshavin comes in from the left, Greece will be outnumbered in midfield, and with Avraam Papadopoulos out, they’ll be shorthanded in defense.

Even if they figured all that out, they have to find a way to win, which means solving their issues going forward. Goalkeeper errors have given them their two goals, and Vyacheslav Malafeev has been one of the tournament’s best `keepers.

Russia gets through with a draw, but they know they’ll avoid Germany (presumably) with a win. That’s incentive enough to avoid drawing.

They also have a question to answer at forward. Aleksandr Kerzhakov has been effective when acting like a false nine, but his inability to convert on Friday and Russia’s lack of chances on Tuesday will give Dick Advocaat pause.

Saturday may serve as a final chance for Kerzhakov. Advocaat may loathe the idea of 90 minutes of Pavlyuchenko, and he won’t want to break up the synergy another Zenit player provides. Still, if he doesn’t have an impact against Greece, the scales my tip against Kerzhakov.

PST’s Euro 2012 “More Powerful” Rankings

There’s no movement in out top eight today. Russia still showed enough to keep from falling, while Poland, for however much promise they’ve showed, has yet to take full points.

1. Germany (-)
2. Spain (-)
3. Italy (-)
4. Russia (-)
5. France (-)
6. Croatia (-)
7. Denmark (-)
8. England (-)

… and PST’s Player of the Tournament Wunderlist

1. Alan Dzagoev, Russia
2. Andriy Shevchenko, Ukraine
3. Mario Mandzukic, Czech Republic
4. Andres Iniesta, Spain
5. Daniele de Rossi, Italy
6. Andrea Pirlo, Italy
7. Andrei Arshavin, Russia
8. Jakub Blaszczykowski, Poland
9. Simon Poulsen, Denmark
10. Vyacheslav Malafeev, Russia

ProSoccerTalk is doing its best to keep you up to date on what’s going on in Poland and Ukraine. Check out the site’s Euro 2012 page and look at the site’s previews, predictions, and coverage of all the events defining UEFA’s championship.